The hop (Humulus lupulus), a component of beer, is a sedative plant whose pharmacological activity is due principally to its bitter resins, especially to the α-acid component 2-methyl-3-buten-2-ol. The mechanism of action of the resin of hop consists of increasing the activity of the neurotransmitter γ-aminobutyric (GABA), inhibiting the central nervous system (CNS).
Objectives: To analyze in an experimental model of diurnal animal the sedative effect of hop, a component of beer, on the activity/rest rhythm.
Methods: Experiments were performed with common quail (Coturnix coturnix) similar to humans in the sleep-wake rhythm, isolated in 25 × 25 × 25 cm methacrylate cages, with food and water ad libitum, in a room with artificial ventilation (22 ± 1 °C) and a lighting cycle of 12L/12D (n = 5). The doses administered, close to the content of non-alcoholic beer, were 1, 2 and 11 mg extract of hop as one capsule per day, at 18:00 h for one week. A control group received capsules only with a methylcellulose excipient and a basal group received no treatment. The chronobiological analysis of the animals' activity captured and logged by the software DAS24 was performed using the Ritme computer program (cosinor methods).
Results: With the dose of 2 mg, there was a statistically significant (p < 0.05) reduction of the arithmetic mean nocturnal activity (23 ± 3.0) with respect to the basal (38.56 ± 2.79), control (38.1 ± 2.8) and other doses groups 1 mg (52.04 ± 3.65) and 11 mg (47.47 ± 5.88). This dose of 2 mg, similar to the concentration in beer, was more effective in reducing nocturnal activity than the other doses of 1 and 11 mg, as well as preserving the circadian activity/rest rhythm.
Conclusion: The concentration of 2 mg of hop extract effectively decreased nocturnal activity in the circadian activity rhythm. On the basis of this investigation, administration of non-alcoholic beer would be recommended due to its hop content and consequent sedative action, which would be an aid to nocturnal sleep.